Steps towards literacy must be climbed one-by-one, just like when a child is learning how to walk. What we, as parents and educators, can do is to provide a loving and supporting environment full of engaging, hands-on activities that spark the love of learning!
Today, we are exploring sight words, which do not fit standard phonetic patterns nor follow the rules of spelling, and must be memorized because decoding them is time-consuming and difficult. So, teaching your child to memorize sight words as a whole, by sight, so that s/he can recognize them immediately (within three seconds) without having to use decoding abilities, is a valuable skill. Basically, you would want your child to know sight words by heart, just like they will learn the multiplication table so that they do not need to spend valuable time decoding them.
After referencing many sources and books, I have put together a sight-words list, arranged by the levels of difficulty. You can “introduce” Level 1 to a three-year-old by simply displaying words on a fridge, reading words out loud while tracing a finger under each letter, offering a child to erase with water a word written with chalk on a chalkboard and so forth. Level 2 you can start with your four-year-old, and Level 3 can be introduced to a five-year-old. Please, note, that the age-suggestions are for reference purposes only as each child develops at his/her own phase. Trust me, there are a lot of children who could not read a word at four and who grew up to be brilliant, intelligent and successful individuals. So, please, put pressure neither on yourself nor on your child! A sensitive window of sensitivity to language WILL open for YOUR child when the time is right!
In the meantime, you may download for your personal use the SIGHT-WORDS PDF here, print it, laminate the entire page and then cut each word out. You will notice that there are three pages, each color-coded according to its level. Level 1 is blue, Level 2 is green and Level 3 is red. You can do either of the two things with your child:
- have the child read Level 1: if s/he makes more than three mistakes, start with this level; otherwise proceed to the next level. Adrian (five-year-old), made five mistakes in Level 3, so it is the level I will be using in today’s “Fish the Sight-Words Activity”
- you can also have your child read all three levels, and you would only use the words the child read incorrectly, so you will end up with various words from all three levels
Today, I am creating an ocean sensory bin to fish the sight words. As a filler, I am using dyed rice. To color your rice, simply add desired food coloring to a ziplock with rice and few squirts of vinegar, mix well, then lay flat to dry. (I pop mine in an oven to speed up the process.)
Then, using pipe cleaners, make a fish by making a small loop from a pipe clear and twisting the ends. Attach the pipe-cleaner-fish to the laminated cut-out word with a tape. Feel free to add googly eyes! To make a “fishing rod” I simply hot-glued one end of a pipe cleaner to a straw, and attached a magnet to the other side of a pipe cleaner. Since pipe cleaners have metal inside (either iron, nickel or cobalt), they will attract to the magnet attached to the straw’s pipe cleaner.
Offer your child to go fishing and then read the fished out word. You can also offer your child to spell each word with Montessori Movable Alphabet.
A note: you do NOT need to create an ocean theme or any theme: use whatever you have: shredded paper, pebbles from the backyard, sand from the beach, or beans, chickpeas or plain white rice from your cupboard! The key is that you “hide” the words and have your child find them and read them. Make phonics fun and you will see how your child’s motivation and the love of learning soars!
You can see this activity on Instagram here. Please, always supervise your children while they are learning through play, Xo